Monday, July 20, 2009
The results are in and I couldn’t be fumier. Forbes has revealed its list of the year’s ten top earning comedians and, just like last year, the name Michael Balazo doesn’t appear once — even in anagram form.
What a first-class farce. It reminds me of the kind of delightful nonsense that a certain Aristophanes would have dreamed up, had he lived long enough to get angry at something he’d read on the internet. (I wonder if Aristophanes is a Mac man or a PC man? Either way, he’s more than welcome to sleep on my couch the next time he’s in town.)
Back to the list. There are some familiar names here, including Jerry Seinfeld (of Bee Movie fame) and Chris Rock; U.S. citizen Dane Cook; silly southerners Jeff Foxworthy and Larry the Cable Expert; Latino heartthrob George Lopez; and Canadians Howard Mandel and Russell Peters. So far, so good — until you realize that two of the grown-men on the list (Jeff Dunham and Terry Fator) are ventriloquists. And not just ventriloquists; they’re extremely wealthy ventriloquists (between the two of them, they raked in $40 million between June 2008 and June 2009).
This really gets my goat. Consider this: like America itself, Dunham and Fator’s acts are built on a solid foundation of racist jokes. Some of Dunham’s most celebrated puppet characters include the Speedy Gonzalez-like José Jalapeño on a Stick, Sweet Daddy D (an elderly, jive talkin’ black pimp), and the Arab-baiting Achmed the Dead Terrorist. As for Fator, he slays audiences across America with a soul-singing minstrel of a puppet named Julius.
It really pisses me off.
You see, years ago, back before anyone had ever heard of Jeff Dunham or Terry Fator, I used to travel around America with a racist puppet act of my own. (Not to toot my own horns, but I was known as the Jim Henson of racist puppet comedy.) My most popular puppets were Black Guy (an African American puppet who longed to make a name for himself in the fragrance industry) and Ching Chong O’Reilly, a crowd-pleasing puppet of mixed ethnicity (Chinese and Irish, naturally) who sang wedding songs in what I can only assume was Hebrew. My act, I assure you, was mostly brilliant. Unfortunately, Lady Luck refused to smile on me, and I never made a red cent. Can you imagine how frustrating it is for me to see these acts I influenced achieve massive success while I sit in my filthy, comfortless room, dying in obscurity?
Ahead of my time, indeed.
All I’m saying is that it’s time for Dunham and Fator to give credit where credit is due. Is that so hard, boys? According to my calculations, each of these pretenders to my throne owes me $5 million. If they fail to deliver the cash to my filthy, comfortless room by Monday at 9 AM, I will have no choice but to burn my horrible puppets and kill myself as quickly as possible. Consider this your last warning, boys.
Congratulations to everyone else on the list, by the way.